China launches its first space lab module

china launches its first space lab module tiangong 1China has taken its first major steps into space over the last decade, sending out its first astronaut in 2003 and making its first spacewalk in 2008. Last week, the country achieved another milestone by successfully launching the first module in its planned space lab.

The unmanned Tiangong 1 (which translates to “Heavenly Palace”) is the first part of a four-module spacecraft, and is intended to test orbital docking capabilities and provide some preliminary space research. The craft will be joined in November by another unmanned module, the unmanned Shenzhou 8, and and then in 2012 the manned Shenzhou 9 and 10 are scheduled to launch.

The full, 60-ton space station is expected to be completed by 2020, with Tiangong 1 offering an early look at how the separate modules will be joined in space.

China is the third country (after Russia and the United States) to develop the ability to send astronauts into space and return them safely. If this year’s two unmanned missions are successful, the Shenzhou 10 mission is expected to bring the Tiangong 1 its first crew —- a team that might include China’s first female astronaut.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Try IoT before you buy IoT: Google, B8ta let you ‘test drive’ smart home tech

Google has partnered with the startup B8ta to let customers try out smart home technology in a retail space arranged like a real home. This lets customers get a better feel for how the technology works.
Cars

Tesla’s referral program lets owners send laser-etched photos into space

Tesla has a referral program that provides its loyal owners who recommend the company's cars to others with rewards. The latest offer: Tesla will laser-etch a photo of the owner's choosing and shoot it into space.
Emerging Tech

Ultra-bright LEDs give us a glimpse of all that space junk orbiting Earth

How do you make people aware of the problem of space junk orbiting the Earth? According to artist Daan Roosegaarde, the answer is simple: By shooting ultra-bright LED beams into the sky.
Emerging Tech

Space tourism: Virgin Galactic ‘weeks’ away from first test flights in space

Virgin Galactic chairman Richard Branson said this week that the first commercial flight for its space tourism service should be coming "in months and not years." A seat on the spacecraft costs a wallet-melting $250,000.
Gaming

As deaf gamers speak up, game studios are finally listening to those who can’t

Using social media, personal blogs and Twitch, a small group of deaf and hard-of-hearing players have been working to make their voices heard and improve accessibility in the gaming industry.
Emerging Tech

Boston Dynamics is trying to make fetch happen with its new working robot dog

Boston Dynamics wants to see Spot in the workplace, but not as part of take-your-dog-to-work days. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the technology company believes its extraordinary robo-dog is now ready to start work.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Get your head in the clouds with the best vaporizers for flower and concentrates

Why combust dead plant matter when you could vaporize the good stuff and leave the leaves behind? Here's a rundown of the best vaporizers money can buy, no matter what your style is.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.
Emerging Tech

What the heck is machine learning, and why is it everywhere these days?

Machine learning has been responsible for some of the biggest advances in artificial intelligence over the past decade. But what exactly is it? Check out our handy beginner's guide.
Emerging Tech

Here are the best (and least likely to explode) hoverboards you can buy

With widespread reports of cheap, knock-off Chinese hoverboards exploding, these self-balancing scooters may be getting a rough reputation. They're not all bad, though. Ride in style with our picks for the best -- and safest -- hoverboards
Emerging Tech

With cameras that know dogs from Dodges, Honda is making intersections safer

Honda and the city of Marysville, Ohio are working on creating a smart intersection. The goal would not only help better direct the flow of traffic, it could also help save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists.
Emerging Tech

Regular paints and plastics will soon be able to ‘heal’ like skin

Imagine if paints, plastics, or other coatings could heal up like human skin in the event that they suffered damage. Thanks to researchers at Clemson University, such technology is almost here.